Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Operation Manky Garden II: The Wrath of Titchmarsh

Operation Manky Garden II: The Wrath of Titchmarsh

Click to embiggenLast year, you may remember Operation Manky Garden, in which I spent my summer planting, nurturing and completely failing to grow a crop of tomatoes with seeds launched from my own poo.

With red hot summer just a couple of weeks away, lasting from February to November as it does these days, it is time I girded my loins and flexed my manly buttocks for another go.

Not put off by my awful failure in the intestino-horticultural arts, I fully intend to repeat the stunt again this year, only with a much more thorough science-led approach. Frankly, I doubt if Alan Titchmarsh, Monty Don or even the fragrant Rachel de Thame would have crouched over a hole in the ground, straining out a turd in the folorn hope that anything good might come out of it.

Instead, I'm going to do this properly. There will be control samples, store bought seeds and source fruit, and a number of varieties, nourished by fertilizer and "mulch" from various sources. As a regular viewer of Gardeners World, I know for a fact that Monty Don is huge on "mulching", the manky bugger, and I intend to mulch as much as I can in my garden, right up to the moment I get an ASBO, or I move house.

So: I might need your help here. Obviously, tomatoes seem to be a rather more complex proposition than I first thought, and may result in repeated failure, or at the very least, a rather dodgy clause in the forthcoming sale documents for Scaryduck Towers. In which case, I ask:

  • What additional crops - apart from a peach, obviously - should I be growing?
  • When is the ideal time to plant?
  • Should I be employing a rudimentary form of crop rotation so I can enjoy the bounty of my bum-harvest all year round?
  • Do you think the dog Lucy Minogue might provide an extra source of planting through her industrial strength dog eggs?
  • What are the pros and cons of window boxes in the pursuit of bum-fruit gardening?

This is important, dammit. This is science.

Also: Following a shameless begging e-mail from the webmaster a certain Ireland-based football website, plz to take time to vote for top reads Arseblog, Pandemian and My Boyfriend is a Twat in the 2007 Bloggie Awards.

That is all.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

On evilling up your mobile phone

On evilling up your mobile phone

The Evil PhoneA visitor to Scaryduck Towers this weekend was a very good friend of Mrs Duck, now residing in Cardiff for tax reasons. We gave her the grand tour and the polite conversation bit, even going as far as offering her a staff discount on the house sale, right up to the moment her expensive-looking, wafer thin mobile phone rang:

"A ring ding ding ding ding ding owieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee"

Oh. God. It's the Frog.

"You realise we might have to kill you now," I offered.

"It's ironic, you know," she said, "I've evilled up my phone to annoy people."

I didn't need to tell her that it is working already.

"It's working already."

My phone, I decided there and then, is not evil enough. It might be none-more-black, but when it rings it's the Specials doing "A Message to You, Rudi", which is about as far away from annoying as you can get, provided you switch it off within twenty seconds. I want my phone to go to the Dark Side.

So, I sat myself down at the computer, found that my corrupt uncle had downloaded a certain copyrighted track, which I then chopped into a mobile phone-sized chunk for evil purposes.

Result: The Star Wars Imperial March. Now that's evil.

Plz to rate on a scale from one to ten the evil quotient of your mobile phone, where one is the tone that came with the device, and ten is the author reading extracts from 'Mein Kampf'.

Monday, January 29, 2007

On being struck down by the dreaded lurgi

On being struck down by the dreaded lurgi

Today, I mostly being struck down by the dreaded lurgi, one of the symptoms of which being losing the will to type anything more than three short paragraphs at a time. Talk amongst yourselves, then.

Last night, in my delirium, I dreamed that I assassinated President George W Bush and brought down the entire western capitalist system with little more that a crate of Stinger missiles whilst hiding in a hedge on the Albert Embankment.

Just so you know, like, for when it happens.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Mirth and Woe: Science Lab II - The Trial of Blood

Mirth and Woe: Science Lab II - The Trial of Blood

In a previous tale of woe, I told of how myself and two other idiots blew up our school science lab in a futile attempt to discover the properties of coal. These properties, you might remember, were that coal did nothing at all, whilst our equipment exploded into tiny little pieces around us.

As an aside, I noted that the following week's biology class was entitled "The Properties of Human Blood". And you might be pleased to hear that blood was indeed spilled.

You probably wouldn't get away with it these days. In fact, I often wonder how they got away with it back then. Normal schools, I have concluded, would have got a supply of spare blood in from the local butcher's shop, as they are, by and large, people with enormous quantities of the stuff from all manner of animals.

In fact, Kathy Alderton's dad ran the local shop, and she often brought in lungs, brains and hearts for science classes, right up to the moment she left a bag of assorted offal propped against a radiator at the back of a French class, and was never asked again.

Unfortunately, we were with Dr "Tucker" Jenkins, and he was no ordinary teacher. He was not of this planet, with weird, piercing blue eyes and a desire to recruit the flower of Britain's youth for some sort of alien invasion. He would spurn mere animal blood for his lesson. He wanted fresh human blood. From virgins.

There was, as you might imagine, a shortage of volunteers for his evil scheme. So, Tucker produced a number of quite possibly stolen blood test kits from his case, and demonstrating on himself, asked who wanted to find their blood group. Finding that the small prick in the end of the finger was relatively painless, there was soon a small queue at his desk, all wanting a go. For many it would be the only prick they would see for many a year.

That may have been fun for a short while, but Tucker wanted blood, blood, blood for his own nefarious experiments with chemicals, enzymes an' stuff. Producing a glass conical flask, he wondered, if by chance, anyone might be willing to give rather more than just a drop of the red stuff. It would be fun, honest. And Tucker would be nourished, oh yes. He would be nourished.

Of course, being a pair of sick bastards, Ju-Vid and Sean volunteered immediately, and began hacking away at their extremities with the sharp end of a set of compasses until they were bleeding all over the place. Before long, the flask had filled to an alarming level.

"Err… that's enough lads," said Tucker, "We don't want to kill you. Not just yet."

The lads hardly dripped on the lab floor at all as they triumphantly brought the flask to the front of the class, one or two of the more sensitive types shrinking away from the scene of carnage as the thing was handed over to our highly esteemed educator.

Their reward, it turned out was to help the evil Doctor with The Great Experiment On The Human Blood. They were given a couple of pipettes containing certain chemicals (what they were, I've since forgotten, but their application in military circles would be devastating), and told to add a single drop immediately after Tucker had dropped in a few grains of some powder. More fool the Tucker, I say.

Quite naturally, and as any teenage lad would do in the circumstances, they ignored him completely and squirted in a whole tube of the stuff. Each.

For a few seconds, nothing much happened.

Then, bubbles appeared on the surface of the bloody chemical mixture. Big, violent bubbles. Outside, the sky darkened.

"Oooh, shit!" said Jenkins.

"Sir! Language!" admonished Lisa from the front row. It would be her last words.

"Pop!" went the flask.

"Spuuuuurgle!" went the blood as it exploded in all directions like a small, red volcano.

"Aaaaaaaaaaaargh!" went the first two rows of the class, which were, as dictated by years of schoolroom tradition, almost entirely female. This would be, if you were a reader of The Beano, be followed almost immediately by a sound effect that went something like "Glub".

The entire front of the lab was red, like a scene from The Exorcist. Tucker, Ju-Vid and Sean had taken the brunt of the hideous explosion, and they were smeared from head to foot in it. Tucker removed his goggles to resemble a tall, thin, red owl, and gazed across a classroom that was not dissimilar to a war zone. Girls, if the rumours we heard were true, who spent up to ten minutes each morning getting their hair and make-up done, instead looked like something painted by Jackson Pollock on one of his bad days.

There was silence. And then, screaming. And from the back of the room, laughter. Cruel, mocking laughter.

And, almost inevitably: "YAAAAAAAAAAAAAARCH!"

"Somebody", Tucker eventually said, "Somebody go and tell Miss Hannon."

"I'll go!" said Ju-Vid, almost too helpfully, "I'll get her."

"No. Not you. Somebody clean."

Miss Hannon, on encountering this scene of devastation, laughed as well. Teachers can be so, so heartless.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

At the World's End

At the World's End

The World's End, Chelsea - dread creatures in cellar (out of shot)As a small boy, and latterly as a fully-grown man, I spent far too many years terrified out of my wits. Any number of things scared me shitty - Big Ben in London actually made me poo my pants as a kid, and I went through a Damian-esque fear of churches at one stage. However, for complete and utter youthful screaming terror, it was a public house in Chelsea called the World's End.

Yes. Yes, I know. It's only a pub. A rather poncy gastro-pub establishment these days, full of poncy Chelsea types who like that kind of thing. But back then, what was clear to me - and a fact that the rest of the population were completely unaware - was that some daft sod had gone and stuck the End of the World in a pub in Chelsea. Living in Hammersmith, having Armageddon just down the road was a little bit too close for comfort.

On thinking about the whole End-of-the-World-inna-Pub concept, it was clear to me that they had put it in the cellar, next to all the empty bottles which they should really be taking back to the shop for a 5p refundThe End of the World was a large bottomless pit, full of terrifying, unnamed creatures; which would emerge, when the time was right, to roam the streets as the planet ripped itself asunder, feeding on the souls of those too slow to get away. Just like an episode of Last of the Summer Wine.

It being Chelsea, I doubt if anyone would have noticed The Old Dark Ones stalking about. Especially if Fulham were playing at home.

In normal circumstances, I would be brave enough to face down my fear by paying a visit to the World's End to prove to myself for once and for all that it's not so bad. I might even get a decent pint into the bargain. But then, I might be wrong. I might fall in.

I am not mad.

The End of the World, and a Thursday vote-o

A vote-o! With Armageddon just around the corner, it hardly seems worth the bother. But here you go, five of me finest Mirth and Woe for you to choose from for tomorrow's story.

Road Rage: "I hate that Ulrika Jonsson. She reminds me of the Yorkshire Ripper. The Yorkshire Ripper with Deirdre Barlow's neck"

Hole in the Ground: "And that's the problem with the French," he grunted from the next cubicle down, "France will never produce a world-class darts player until they sort out their plumbing"

Bin: It was only then that I realised that coach parties had been arranged in my absence with the sole purpose of seeing me flailing around like an inverted spacker

Science Lab - The Trial of Blood: We wanted fresh human blood for this experiment. From virgins. If only we could find one.

Rubbery: If he didn't already lack two in the bollock department, I might have removed them myself with a blunt modelling knife.

Go on then, vote, vote, vote me up. Random spot prize for the bestest, sssssexiest vote.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

On defying death, and peasants

On defying death, and peasants

Last week, on finding myself unable to dump a couple of old sofas in a lay-by like normal people, my brother-in-law and I were forced by irate wives to pile them into a hired van and take them to a council tip, somewhere on the Berkshire/Hampshire border.

As death-defying experiences go, we both count ourselves lucky to be alive - not juat from the horror of driving a high-sided van through Force Ten gales - but from the events which unfolded as we did our level best to kick the comfy chairs into small enough pieces to fit them into the skip. For we arrived at the same time as the man from the Surreal IRA, delivering a van-load of supposedly empty propane gas cylinders.

You would have thought they might have some specialist equipment or procedure to dispose of these things. And you would be wrong, for they have Lance.

"Lance!" shouted the boss man, from his prime scavenging position in the metal-and-electrical-goods skip, "Sort 'em out!"

And so Lance - clearly the works experience boy - in ill-fitting boiler suit and tellingly reversed baseball cap sorted 'em out.

With an axe.

In these parts, they deal with highly explosive gas cylinders by hitting them with Lance's big chopper until they are split asunder. It appears that the sole reason for this is that they hate his guts and want to kill him to death as quickly as possible, claiming the insurance, and disposing of his still smoldering body parts inside and old fridge.

We fled.

We fled, crying with laughter.

On reflection, this begs the question: What is the worst, most dangerous job ever?

My recent researches have led me to conclude thussly:

a) Lance at a local rubbish tip,

b) Leader of a peasant revolt

It is not the actual revolting that is dangerous. I am pretty sure the whole rising up is a roller-coaster ride of fun, laughs and slaying your master - it is the hideous end-game when the boss's well-trained armed forces finally catch up with you, your ramshackle workers' army mysteriously disappearing back into the fields muttering "Nuffin' to do with us, knew it would end badly".

It's at times like this you realise that the Tolpuddle Martyrs actually got off lightly with transportation to the colonies. This was a new departure, and a refreshing change from the usual, where history is full of peasant leaders cooked, peeled, dismembered or simply hung out for the killer bees. Being a peasant leader is a bad thing. Just ask these guys:

* Matija Gubec: Cooked

* György Dózsa: Cooked and eaten

* Jack Cade: Dismembered

* An Gof: Head on a spike

* Jade Goody: Publicly ridiculed

Peasants - Know Your Place. And that goes for you, Goody.

I dare say you lot will tell me they were mere lightweights.

I am not mad.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Tea: Fuel of a nation

Tea: Fuel of a nation

Tea. It's excellent.

I have written on tea before, but, for once, I do not care. This is important, damn it.

Nothing beats a nice cup of tea and a sit down, and the perfectly executed cup is enough to revive even the hardest of days.

So why, then, does our work canteen contain endless box upon box of such crimes against the tea-maker's art as "Raspberry Refresher" and "Peppermint Ponce". This is not tea. It is evil. Even PG Tips is adequate compared to these. It is telling that these so-called "teas" are often purchased by women, highlighting, once more, of the necessity for men to take control of any tea procurement process.

The Campaign for Real Tea starts here. Tea should be stewed for at least half an hour before serving, preferably in a mug last washed up in 1973 with full-fat milk and six sugars. Tea which breaks several international conventions against chemical weapons but we do not care. Anything else is a betrayal of British values.

Furthermore, people who cut in at the front of the canteen tea queue saying "Can I have a slice of lemon?" should be dragged out and shot like the treacherous dogs that they are. If God meant us to take tea with lemon, then why did he give us cows? For milk and tea and tasty meat, that's what. He also gave us guns so we can kill these people to death. Top work, tea-quaffing bearded guy!

Cut an Englishman in half, and you will find tea flowing through his veins. Actually, you won't because he'd be dead. But he'd die drinking English tea, the cup still clenched him his still-warm hands, his entire will-and-testament given over to funding a war against coffee-producing nations. The French can take their EU-approved café-de-puss-puss and stick it where the sun doesn't shine, because tea TEA! is the best.

I am not mad.

Monday, January 22, 2007

On Friends Reunited, again

On Friends Reunited, again

Inspired by my new, improved Friends Reunited profile (which, I swear, I never, ever look at), I was contacted by a lad with whom I shared quality classroom time back in the 1980s. I say 'lad', but he is a grown man now; and the word 'friend' is stretched to its loosest possible definition, because, frankly, I barely knew him from a hole in the ground. But then, our school was big on holes in the ground, what with the poor reputation of our Science Club and everything.

Jeff, is turns out, is a broken man. On leaving school, he went to some Polytechnic college on the south coast, after which he somehow landed his dream job studying whales in the Caribbean. A dream job for anyone except Jeff. Two decades on, the result of sleeping through a crucial college lecture after a night spent face down in a Brighton gutter, he never found out where they lay their eggs.

Now, back in the UK, he is starting a new - and if you ask me, an entirely misguided - venture in the domestic pet trade. So, not desperate at all, and with a wife and six kids to support, he is spamming his Friends Reunited lists in the forlorn hope that one or any of use who left The Piggott School, Wargrave between 1982-4 might want to buy a pet bee on a string. Fully licensed, he claims, with a free collar.

What an enormous twat.

If he had paid any attention at all to my Friends United profile he would have realised that I am already chairman of the Dorset Wasp Fanciers Union, and we at the DWFU have rather strong views about bees, viz: crap. My wasp-on-a-string is so offended, it is all I can do to stop Buzzy Minogue from going off and giving idiot Jeff a damn good sting. And I would not be out of order.

It's people like this who give the internet a bad name.

I am not mad.

Also: Duck News has a go at being a pirate.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Mirth and Woe: The Great Bicycle Mystery

The Power of Mirth and Woe

Last week’s Tale of Mirth and Woe involved telling the story of how I smashed my lovely sister’s face in with a roof tile, provoking a life devoted to killing me to death. To prove the power of this site, my sister rang me during the week to tell me that she had quite spookily - and on that very day - been clubbed around the face by a projectile roof tile.

In which case, I’m going to tell a tale of removing large quantities of cash from the Bank of England, and deleting yesterday’s guff about bumming. Just to be on the safe side, like.

Or, perhaps not.

Instead, and as a sequel to last week’s story, I bring you:

The Great Bicycle Mystery

I have, as you may be aware by now, written on several occasions on my older sister’s desire to have me killed to death, preferably in a very painful manner. Her death wish has manifested itself in many ways - drowning, scalding, awful driving and plain old girlie claws, for which I still possess the scars.

So, there is only one suspect in The Great Bicycle Mystery of 1979.

I could often be seen riding around Twyford on my bike. It was a big old Raleigh Jeep. Second hand to be sure, and built from scaffolding poles and girders, but it was a treat to ride, and once you got some speed up, the momentum could take you on forever. Also, being the most unfashionable bike on the planet, nobody was ever going to steal it. Much less - and pointing no fingers at this point - sabotaging it in an attempt to murder its owner. Murder him to death.

It was a Sunday, and I decided to take my bike out for a ride. I took it to the top of the hill, and then raced it to the bottom, through the school grounds (just to annoy the caretaker), followed by a huge lap through the park which brought me out back at the top of my road.

After that little work-out, I puttered about at the top of the big hill, deciding what to do next. Having such a big bike, I always found myself a little jealous of my mates and their Raleigh Choppers and racers for not being able to pull a good wheelie, or even the smallest of tricks. God, how I tried, but no matter how much I practiced, there was just nothing doing.

So, I tried again, this time trying a few little hops up and down the kerb. It was just as I started doing this, right outside Stephen Driver’s house, that I realised one important detail. My bicycle currently had no nuts holding on the front wheel. None at all.

This realisation - and you should know me enough by now to know exactly what’s going to happen next - came exactly 0.00001 seconds too late, and I watched in horror as I pulled up the handle-bars for another doomed wheelie to see the front wheel bound off down Longfield Road in the general direction of the Recreation Ground.

Of course, I could only guess where the front wheel might end up, as the next thing I knew that poor, helmet less me, was flying arse-over-tit over the handle-bars, performing a headlong dive into Stephen Driver’s front garden.

“Ooof!” you say, “that’s gotta hurt.”

And, yes. I can confidently say that it did. Quite a lot, in fact, as Stephen Driver’s front garden consisted mainly of a lovely soft lawn, and a concrete driveway. Guess which bit I landed on.

I lay there for a while, contemplating my fate (and not, as some contemporary historians incorrectly state, crying like a girl), before Stephen Driver’s beardy dad eventually peeled me from his driveway, and pointed me in the general direction of my bike. I thanked him for this kindness by bowking my Sunday lunch over the front wing of his Volkswagen, which I thought a fair deal.

It was some time, in my groggy state, before I found both parts of my bicycle, slotted them back together and made my way home. Home, where I found two wheel nuts and a spanner lying on the floor of the garage. I bowked the rest of my Sunday lunch over them, and went to lie down for a bit.

I have had by suspicions over who did this deed for the best part of three decades now, and last night, I confronted my sister with the rock hard facts, and, at last pointed the finger of suspicion at her, from the safety of three hundred miles of telephone line.

She denies it. But then, caught, as they say, like a Treen in a Disabled Venusian Space Cruiser (a running theme in our family this week), she denied everything.

“It could have been anyone. Your brother. John down the road. Squaggie. Heaven knows we never locked that garage at night. It might have been itinerant travellers. Tramps. Tramps with spanners.”

That proves it.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

"And a picture of a dog's bottom"

"And a picture of a dog's bottom"

J. Donovan: NOT a friend of DorothyIn lieu of a Thursday vote-o on account of being far too busy doing things with fire-resistant plasterboard (which may or may not end up inserted into a council building control inspector at some point), I instead ask the question that will bring society to its knees. Doggy style.

So: what is the gayest thing you've ever done?

I demand that you confront our inner homo. Go on. You know you want to. He's/She's lovely, is good with colours, and won't touch your private parts unless he asks first.

You may, of course, claim that you are as straight as a die, say you've never watched Torchwood, and state that you once refused to go on holiday to Brighton. That's fine. We'll just accept that you're in denial, an' all that.

And speaking of De Nile (geddit?):

My confess-o: I had to dress up as an Egyptian slave in a school stage production of Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. This involved wearing nothing but a girl's white gym skirt, whilst being lightly-oiled with fake tan lotion.

"It's not sissy" said Mrs Jones, "They used to dress like this all the time."

"The great bunch of girls."

All these years later, I still wake up in a cold sweat, my mind's eye locked on the way my fellow slave "Rocky" Richards was looking at me. If only he knew. I'd scratch his eyes out.

Come on girls! Confess me up!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

On finding yourself caught like a Treen in a disabled Venusian Space Cruiser

On finding yourself caught like a Treen in a disabled Venusian Space Cruiser

Scaryduckling made a confession. A confession about an awful, awful incident on a Saturday shopping trip into Weymouth that I vowed I would not stick on my blog. Here it is then, the aftermath of an ill-advised V-sign at one of her school's more ...err... unpopular girls:

Angry-looking not so Yummy Mummy: "You! Yes you! The not unattractive girl in the blue coat! Are you sticking two fingers up at me?"

Scaryduckling: "No... err... it was at the girl behind you."

Not Yummy Mummy: "That would be my daughter, then."

Scaryduckling (top marks for thinking on her feet here): "No. Not her. The girl behind her."

Not Yummy Mummy: "My other daughter."

Scaryduckling: "LEG IT!!!"

Social embarrassment - it's not just for grown-ups.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

On being a heartless bastard

On being a heartless bastard

From the Spooky Times gravestone generator - legend Terry Ravenscroft wrote recently on how dead people tend to be eulogised to the skies these days, rather than being condemned as the shithouses they were when they were alive.

I concur.

For example: You notice that when people leave bouquets of flowers at the scene of a tragedy they always come with a heartfelt "WHY?!" or "Now at peace" on the card. That's the kind of sentimental gushing towards complete strangers they're good at in Liverpool that got Boris Johnson into so much trouble. It comes to something that people were even saying nice things about General Pinochet last year, even when it was abundantly clear that he was, in life, the shithouse's shithouse.

The murders of the five prostitutes in Ipswich last December being a damn good case in point. Nobody gave two shits about their welfare when they were living, breathing individuals,just as long as they gave a VAT receipt with their services. In death, however, they became The Slatterns of All Our Hearts, getting a minute's silence at Ipswich football ground, presided over by the local bishop, no less. Perhaps the first XI were regulars, I dunno. At least Norwich City have the exotic delights of Delia Smith to fall back on by way of a win bonus, so no wonder they're shit.

We'll mourn anything these days. No sporting event ever gets a chance to kick-off without a couple of minutes for the physio's cat that fell under the team bus. Millions who died in the war? Sod 'em - I bet Red Rum got a more respectful silence.

Enormously heartless that I am, I find this sort of collective hysteria hugely entertaining. I might probably have been lynched if I went out in public after Diana carked it, laughing cruelly at the fact that the Emperor was quite clearly in the buff.

It's time we were more honest about things. If we're going to start leaving flowers lying about for people, let's at least make sure we say what we really mean.

Nobody ever leaves "HA! That'll teach you for driving at 95mph in a built-up area, won't it?" or "You twat. I told you not to smoke in bed", or better still "See? I told you to go see a doctor about it."

* "Sadly missed. Still owes me twenty quid"

* "Can I have your record collection?"

* "At peace, free of erectile dysfunction at last"

* "Thank God. I thought you would never go"

More truth in mourning. That's what we need.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Living with Penguins

Living with Penguins

This weekend budding Steven Spielberg Scaryduck Junior has been mostly tramping through the wastes of Antarctica making a totally serious documentary film on the lives of penguins on the frozen southern continent.

And, after literally minutes spent on Windows Movie Maker, here it is.

You'll laugh.

You'll cry.

You'll send money*.

Direct link HERE.

All shooting and editing by the boy Adam, script and shonky voiceovers by somebody who ought to know better.

* Or we might make another.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

World Famous in Dorset

World Famous in Dorset

And a big welcome to BBC Dorset readers.

A whole press interview and not a single swear. I must be going soft in my old age.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Mirth and Woe: Conk

Mirth and Woe: Conk

I have scars all over the upper part of my body thanks to my kind, loving sister's attempts to kill me to death or maim me horribly throughout my childhood. And then there are the scars that leave no physical mark on my body, such as the time she tried to drown me, and her plot to convince the dog that I was some sort of vicious intruder, fit only to be ripped limb from limb. And what, I ask, did I ever do to her?

Oh yes, I remember now.

I'm from That There London, and spent my early years in a terraced house in Hammersmith. It had a long, narrow garden with an alley running along the back, where I was forever picking up hideous injuries, and staggering back to the house, covered in blood with bits of bottles and carnivorous plant sticking out of me. The tree at number twenty - where Janine Bailey, the girl of my dreams lived - also had it in for me, and I would fall from its branches on a semi-regular basis.

What, though, would you expect from a small boy at the age of five-going-on-six?

These days parents rarely let their children out of their sight for fear that they might pick up a scratch, or possibly even enjoy themselves. In 1971, we were given the run of a kingdom that spread across one, possibly two blocks of houses in South West London.

Our garden was dominated by a large, galvanised metal swing with a huge wooden seat. The kind they used to use in safety films about the dangers of playgrounds which would then be shown around schools during morning assembly, to increasingly green-looking children. A girl called Sylvia might faint, whilst a particularly sensitive lad would vomit copiously down a teacher and several of his classmates.

The whole area, then, was a large playground full of dangerous things. Apart from the swing-o-doom, we also had an outhouse that was full to overflowing with dangerous-looking garden tools, and a genuine honest-to-goodness coal bunker, filled with genuine honest-to-goodness coal. We used it as a Wendy House. Wendy, in our household, being as black as the ace of spades, where we stripped all the rose bushes of petals to make soup for teddy-bears' picnics. Bless.

So. London. Garden. All kinds of dangerous stuff. Scene set.

"Hey look!" said I, emerging from the outside lav, clutching a garden spade. "It's a garden spade!"

"We can turn that into a see-saw!" ventured Jill, "A see-saw for dollies."

"Yeah. If you want."

A see-saw. For dollies. What kind of girlie thinking was that?

So, we laid the shovel across a handy concrete block, and I watched, helplessly as cuddly toys rocked backward and forward.

I munched on a handful of rose petals and considered the possibilities.

And yes.

My foot came down on the handle, and poor little dolly shot into the air, coming to a rest in the depths of our parents' best, spikiest rose bush. I had, at the age of five, invented a rudimentary siege weapon.

Now, if only I had something to use on it that wasn't one of my older sister's favourite cuddly friends.

After scouting about a bit, I found the very thing in the alley at the end of our garden. A mess of broken roof tiles, scattered all around the place. It wasn't as if anybody was using it, so I scooped up a big handful, and placed them on the business end of the shovel.

Seeing as I was going to do this right, and go for maximum damage, I would, I decided, need a run up starting fifty yards away up the back alley, up the garden, round the swing a couple of times, launch myself over the sand-pit and straight onto the handle of the shovel-cum-siege-weapon with my number one war cry:


"Spang!" when the shovel.

"Thwoosh!" went the half-dozen pieces of red, red roof tile as the whistled past my ear.

"Spackaspackaspackaspacka!" they went as they thundered into my sister's nose.

"Mwaaaaaaaaaargh! Muuuuuuuuummmmmm!" she screamed through streams of blood.


They carted her off to Charing Cross Hospital, just down the road, where they put her nose together, and topped it off with a huge plaster. And yes, scarred for life.

Now I remember why she's still trying to kill me.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Eloquent Willy Bum Man

Eloquent Willy Bum Man

Now, there's something I didn't know this time last week.

A local student of languages has kindly told me what my name means in Arabic. Literally, and it comes as little surprise, it comes out as "The Eloquent Willy Anus"


It was as if it were ordained by fate.

Buoyed up by this discovery, I offer you no less than six stories to choose from for this week's Thursday vote-o. Choose, then, from the following, remembering that the value of vote-o quote-os may go down as well as up:

* Conk: "Women, eh? Sometimes I wish I'd been born gay. Only without all that bumming an' stuff, obviously."

* Road Rage: And did not our Lord ask of Mary Magdalene in the time of his greatest temptation: "Hast thou a sister?"

* Hole in the Ground: "And coming soon to BBC2," said the announcer, "The Orifice - Ricky Gervais goes for a prostate examination - with hilarious results!"

* Bin: "I went up north once," I told her as she smeered herself with beef dripping, "It was cold, the people spoke funny and I got food poisoning off pie."

* Science Lab II - The Trial of Blood: "Oh yeah?" he said, not standing for that kind of talk, "Well, your mum... your mum... touches kids."

* Rubbery: "Feh! Jimmy Carr? He's not fit to lick Spike Milligan's shoes. In fact, let's dig up Spike and get Carr shoe-licking pronto. Then I'd laugh at him."

For the uninitiated, the winner of this vote will be published tomorrow as this week's Tale of Mirth and Woe, in which lurid and dreadful descriptions of bodily functions are all but guaranteed.

Vote! Vote! Vote, I say! And tell us what you think your name should be in foreign.

Your reward, by popular demand: I understand that there was a football match between Liverpool and Arsenal this week in which a number of goals were scored. Scorchio!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Old People Say the Funniest Things

Old people say the funniest things

THIRD attempt at a post today. The earlier ones (shoved back in a drawer marked "Beware of the Leopard") were still half-baked and may return without warning.

OMD: Scaring old ladiesMy great aunt and my gran were both came out of Raj India, and had a rather different perspective to life than those of us brought up back in the Old Country.

Great Aunt Dorothy was incredibly old-fashioned, and hardly ever left her home in Seaford for fear of running into normal people, or God forbid, colonials, seeking out white flesh for a continuation of the Indian Uprising.

A random quote whilst watching absolutely ANYTHING on TV: "There's too many niggers on the television these days." And that came during Songs of Praise. Mouth: like a goldfish.

When Moira Stewart made her first appearance on the BBC News back in the early 80s, I genuinely thought she was going to explode.

She wouldn't let us watch ITV, which was "run by people who wear jeans". If she had her way, she would have tied them all over the mouths of cannons and BOOOM!

Watching Top of the Pops one Thursday, we sat through any number of acts that could have raised Great Aunt Dorothy's elderly ire (including, if my memory serves, The Ruts doing the punk classic Babylon's Burning*). It was only when twee electro group Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark came on doing something soppy that she exploded.

"Look! LOOK! He's got his shirt tails hanging out!"

He wasn't wearing a tie, either. And he needed a decent short back-and-sides, like they have in the army, "a bit of National Service would soon sort out his slovenly ways I don't know why I pay my TV Licence, the BBC's full of long-haired communists these days..."

Andy McCluskey, you're a granny-worrying thug.

* My memory is a good seven years out. It was, after studying the Top 40 of the time, almost certainly the Jesus and Mary Chain. Or Iron Maiden. Or The Stranglers. Details, Shmetails.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

On Friends Reunited

On Friends Reunited

TV's Mr Biffo wrote yesterday on the futility of Friends Reunited, the 'find your old school friends' website that everybody uses, but nobody admits to.

I admit, like Biffus (who is madly plugging his yet-to-be-published-but-certain-to-be-excellent book), that even after the initial flurry when the site was fresh and new, and you didn't mind paying the fiver for full membership, I still lavish care and attention on my Friends Reunited profile. It is, after all, a public shop window for your life, and people you once invested quality time on might be looking. Not to mention that bastard who flushed your trainers down the toilet.

But bollocks to that. Since the site was bought up by clearly bat-shit insane ITV executives (I've heard sums of between 120m to 180m pounds for the sale), they've upped the membership to fifteen quid a year and have been plugging it remorselessly at every opportunity.

The trouble is, everybody who signed up in 2001 knows that once you've emailed every single person you once knew and got a "Who the hell are you?" back from your former best friend (the micro-cocked gimpoid), the whole thing is reduced to an exercise in futility. A slight detail that ITV somehow overlooked when lamp-eyed executives got their chequebook out.

So. Let's have some fun, shall we? My profile is currently the most dreadful bit of self-promotion telling the world how excellent I am, how big my beach-front house is, and buy my book if you don't mind. Or rather, it was.

Senior journalist at the BBC World Service - Married, kids, dog, living in Dorset - look for my book on Amazon.

Awful, don't you think?

Anyone fool enough to search for me on that site now gets this:

Jacked in the rat-race and have recently turned professional in the highly-competitive world of pub sports.

* Runner-up in the Belgian National Pinball Championships 2005. Came second to a deaf, dumb and blind kid. LOLz.
* Winner, Wales and West Trivial Pursuit Tournament, Aberystwyth 2006 - shown LIVE on S4C!!!
* Hoping to represent Northern Ireland at Competitive Team Dominos in the forthcoming World Championships in Beijing, qualifying through the 'Granny' rule.
* Just secured a sponsorship deal with a well-known brand of dog food - got a life-time's supply!!!!

Married to my skittles doubles partner - she really "bowled" me over! ROFL!!1!

Free any time for drinks except Tuesdays (my Alc Anon night - great people who party HARD)!!!

That is, I think, exactly 192% better.

As a Brucie Bonus, here is an alternative profile that I might still use some day:

Failed all my A-Levels
University degree in 2005
Celebrating fifteen years of marriage
Kids in secondary school

Years spent in the same job
Online journalist for the BBC
Upping sticks for abroad, soon

Award-winning writer and journalist
Look for my book on Amazon
Love to hear from you

Your turn.

Monday, January 08, 2007

On trying to hate Big Brother

On trying to hate Big Brother

Picture stolen from the very excellent www.colintheowl.comThis was going to be the year, bored witless that I am, that I was going to give a shit about Celebrity Big Brother.

Then they moved Jade Goody and her awful, awful family into the house, and that was the end of it. They can all get to fuckery as far as I care, and that's the end of that.

Actually, no. I 'm of the opinion that they should follow the inevitable evolution for these programmes as theorised in Doctor Who last year: all reality TV contestants should be killed to death in an ironic manner as soon as they are eliminated from the game.

Finding yourself transported to a space-ship lurking at the edge of the Solar System where the victim is turned into a Dalek might be taking it a tad too far. I am, then, all for a fight to the death. Jade Goody vs Chantelle, with their weapon of choice, in a darkened cellar. That'll see how committed they are to getting themselves into the red tops.

Jade Goody, in the words of the great philosopher Homer (Simpson): "This woman is far richer and more successful than you'll ever be, so why bother?" I believe this sums up the entire futility of human existence, and we might as well just, collectively, end it all now.

You know, pay me enough money and I will be willing to believe that she is in fact Professor J Goody MSc, currently undertaking a long-term study into the behavioural characteristics and social interactions resulting from the concept of "celebrity" in British televisual culture in an enclosed environment.

It'll have to be quite a lot of money.

We are, I think, rather wasting our time here. It would be much easier, say, if we got the right sort of people into Big Brother in the first place. People you wouldn't mind watching as they beat each other to death with the severed left leg of Natasha Kaplinksy in a Celebrity Battle Royale to end them all.

Name, then, your dream/nightmare Celebrity Big Brother housemates. We will assume, for form's sake that J.Goody is ready in her peachy nakedness*, lightly-oiled and waiting for a damn good fisting. In the face. A fisting in the face. Alongside the slightly lop-sided and rotting corpse of Saddam Hussein, also lightly oiled.

* A peach that has been left to rot under the fresh fruit counter in Tesco, and then forced to take part in Mastermind, specialist subject 'Being a dim bint'.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Mirth and Woe: Killer Sheep

Mirth and Woe: Killer Sheep

Sheep by Ed - moobaaquack.blogspot.comSheep! Beware the vicious man-eating sheep!

Sheep, as we all know are possibly the least threatening life forms on the planet. People, as a rule, don't get murdered to death by hideously-fanged homicidal sheep. Except in the strange other-world in which I grew up.

You knew I was going to say that, didn't you?

Our Scout leader had set us a little challenge.

"This weekend", he said, "I'm going to drive you out into the middle of nowhere, and then, using your map-reading skills, you'll have to find out where you are and walk your way back to the Scout Hut."

As chat-up lines go, I bet he uses that one on all the girls. For mad-keen Scouts, it seemed the ideal way of spending a weekend. I was, despite appearances, anything but a mad-keen Scout. In fact, I was hoping that there would be a railway station or a handy bus stop somewhere on the route which might save us all a great deal of effort.

"You'll need a tent because it'll be a two-day journey."

Now, that was just cruel and unusual punishment, and almost certainly a plot hatched between parents and the Scout Association to get us out of the house for several days at a time. Or, if they were lucky, forever.

So, come Saturday morning, we piled into Skip's car (or, as everybody else called him - "Nigel") and he carted four of us off to our mystery destination, warning us to avoid looking out of the window, or it would spoil the entire exercise.


He dropped us in the middle of Didcot.

"Didcot! We're in fuckin' Didcot!"

This did not bode well.

As his car disappeared into the distance, I unveiled my plan to hop on a train back to Twyford, spend the next day in the Golden Cross getting blasted, before turning up, triumphantly at the Scout Hut the next day.

I lost, the mad-keen bastards.

And so, we headed up towards the Chilterns, the Ridgeway, and the route home. Me mumbling under my breath and hating every step as I followed the signs pointing us towards Henley-on-Thames, the others doing pointless exercises in map reading and compass work. I looked forward to running out of bog paper and using the map for a purpose to which it wasn't designed.

The next day was more of the same, only colder, wetter, and much more miserable. Even my none-more-keen companions were beginning to wane, and I decided that now would be the time to strike.

"Lads! If we cut across this field, we end up right next to the Bath Road. We'll get a bus back EASY."

There was a brief, pointed argument, which I won.

We hung a sharp right and headed across some fields in search of our goal and my salvation.

It was hard work. Off the beaten track, the mud squelched underfoot, and our progress slowed to a sodden crawl. And then we reached a gate, and beyond it, one last field before, in the near distance, the roar of heavy traffic. Saved!

"Uh, Scary," said one of my companions, "Sheep?"

Yeah? What about them?

"The field. It's full of sheep. They belong to someone."

And they're going to tell on us? Don't be such a girl.

Manfully, we drew straws, and decided, when that failed to provide a clear loser, that Greebo would go first. Just in case the sheep told on us and some red-faced farmer would spring out of nowhere and shoot us all to death with his twelve-bore.

"Go on, boy," we urged him, "nothing to be scared of."

And there wasn't. He trudged off across the field to the muted baa-ing of the inhabitants, his boots disappearing ankle deep into the mire.

"See you lot on the other side," he called, and went his merry way. "Sheep? What could they possibly do to me?"

At was at that point that Cuddles, Killer Sheep noticed Greebo entering her domain.

"Baa!" she said, obviously short for "Baa-stard!"

Greebo watched open-mouthed as the sheep gave that whole grass-eating business a rest and charged. Straight at him.

There was a distant scream, and he fled. Fled for his life.

He might have made it too, if it were not for the fact that the mud made his progress something like wading through treacle, while Cuddles seemingly flew across the sodden meadow.

Then, he went down, and Cuddles was upon him, giving him the bleating of his life.

Alas, the other sheep thought this was an excellent idea, and poor, dead Greebo was engulfed in a white, fluffy tide.

Sickened, we were. What a way to go.

Eventually, a mud-spattered and bruised wraith eventually appeared out of the setting sun, dragging the remains of his rucksack behind him, covered head to toe with sheeps' poop.

It was a dead loss. No driver on God's Earth was going to let us on his bus.

"No, you're right. Best stick to the footpath."

Thursday, January 04, 2007

On Star Wars

On Star Wars

Amongst his Christmas swag this year, Scaryduck Junior bagged himself a rather good Star Wars chess set.

It was during one of the holiday's routine chessboard thrashings handed out to my padowan learner (I was the 24th best player in Berkshire, I'll have you know), that I realised one important detail.

While the white rebel side had a number of women - Padme Amidala and Princess Leia, the black Imperial Empire was, sadly an all male affair. Even the queen - Darth Vader - was a man, an all-male galactic view that, I believe, is borne out throughout the film series.

The concerned observer is forced to ask itself: how gay is the Imperial Empire? It is a seething mass of masculinity, looking for an outlet somewhere, making full use of the special attachment you can get for Threepio droids. It is an empire, thrusting out into deep space, keeping a wistful eye on Uranus.

Obi-Wan Kenobi: "That's no moon!"
Luke Skywalker: "You're right, Ben. It's... it's... it can't be... it's a man's bottom!"
Chewbacca: "Waaaaaargh!"

Death Star? Gay Star more like. Crewed by 750,000 rock hard blokes, and nary a woman to be seen. It is little wonder that Luke Skywalker managed to stick one up their exhaust port the second their back was turned, blowing them to all corners of the galaxy like so much space jism.

In the Star Wars universe, the Village People are all Stormtroopers. FACT!

Oooh, look! A Thursday vote-o!

Select, if you will, one of the following stories to be published as this week's Friday Tale of Mirth and Woe. I'm not feeling particularly funny ha-ha at the moment, so here's something I tossed off earlier for a little project we like to call Celebrity Bestiality, so take a look at that instead. Firewall problems? Too right. It's mank of the first order.

* Conk: "Hey look it's a garden spade!"

* Road Rage: "Kick his fahkin' teef in!"

* Hole in the Ground: "Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaarch!"

* Killer Sheep: "Didcot. We're in fuckin' Didcot."

* Bin: "Christ alive, what's that smell?"

Vote, then. Vote, vote, vote me up!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Oh Lordy! It's the return of the Horror-Scopes!

Oh Lordy! It's the return of the Horror-Scopes!

Alas, colonials will fail to see the cultural reference. Tough!As the old year is clocked over the head like an unwanted grandparent, and left in the gutter of history for carrion, it is time to look ahead to 2007 to see what the year has in store for we all-too-mortal humans. Woe, on the whole, it turns out.

And who better to see the future than former West Brom manager and Sheffield Wednesday legend Gary "Mystic" Megson, looking into his crystal football? On me 'ead, son!

Aries: The failure to employ an adequate offside trap in away fixtures means that you, dear Aries, will be struggling for a play-off place come the end of the season. That will, however, be the least of your worries as summer brings an army of Jocky Wilson clones taking turns to sit on your face. Lucky colour: puce

Taurus: Your reputation amongst friends and family will be less than sparkling as your entry into the Big Brother house is seen as an own goal of epic proportions, and the incident with the strap-on dildo and the lifeless cadaver of the Queen Mother will leave you in the same league as Judas Iscariot. Luckily, this will be the first year that BB allows a firing squad into the house. Lucky town: Penistone

Gemini: For the first time in your life, you will no longer have to face the taunts of your family over your choice of hair style. A nuclear winter tends to change people's world view like that, don't you think? Lucky ice cream: Cornetto

Cancer: Angels on gilded wings look down on your sainted, successful life of love, charity and happiness. Only joshing. It's Ebola again. Bet on second favourites in National Hunt races. You'll lose, but that's the kind of guff that keeps gullible people like you happy, it turns out.

Leo: Restless Leo - 2007 sees you fulfil your dream of seeing the world and meeting new people. Slavery's not so bad once you get used to it, and neither is having needlessly painful plastic surgery so you look like Anthony Worall Thomspon. Lucky author: Jeffrey Archer

Virgo: At last you achieve the lasting fame and recognition you have been seeking your whole life, dear Virgo. Oh, how the whole world will remember you name, as 'The man who was bummed to death by a Tiger during the Superbowl half-time show' is a bit of a mouthful. Especially as your mouth was full. With Michael Jackson. Lucky singer: Michael Jackson

Libra: Oh. The St Winifrid's School Choir. What a way to go. Lucky elderly relative who there is no-one quite like: Grandma

Scorpio: Your unselfish sacrifice will not go unnoticed by the British people, and the posthumous George Cross is the very least you deserve, dear Scorpio. Still, if a suicide bomb's the only way to deprive the gene pool of further Jade Goody offspring, then so be it. Even if you had to climb inside. It would have been a VC if you'd have got Chantelle, but c'est la vie. Lucky Fools and Horses character: "Dave"

Sagittarius: And they said a manned mission to Mars would be impossible, what with the great distances, the dead cold of space, deadly radiation, the enormous quantities of supplies required, and the need to endlessly recycle the air that you - the chosen one - would have to breathe. And they'd be right. The world looks forward to the free firework display of your firey re-entry in 2012. Toodle-pip. Lucky 80s pop video: "Hello" by Lionel Ritchie

Capricorn: Be careful what you wish for. No man has ever seen Bonnie Langford in the nip and lived to tell the tale. Lucky lucky lucky: Kylie Minogue

Aquarius: Did not Our Lord Jesus say 'Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth'? Your little encounter with the Russian 10th Guards Tank Division must have slipped His mind when He said it. Look on the bright side, they'll be able to post you home without the need for a 'large letter' stamp. Lucky former UN Secretary General: Boutros Boutros Ghali

Pisces: You know that famous rugby song that finishes 'And she was split from arse to tit / And the whole bloody issue was covered in shit'? My advice to you, dear Pisces, is to steer well clear of blacksmiths this year. Back a team from either the northern or southern hemisphere in this year's Rugby World Cup. Lucky Astrologer: Mystic Megson

If it's your birthday: You won't be needing your presents, not where you're going. Can I have them?

Another sparkling year ahead, then pop-pickers, in which I see nothing but shedloads of money for myself, and painful death for you. For a more detailed Astro-Tarot-Feng Shui-Haiku-Coprophile reading of your stars, why not ring my premium line phone service? Only five quid a minute, and worth every penny. Pip pip!

Also: If you think you're due a bad year, TV's Mark Freeland knows of somebody who has had far, far worse. In rhyming couplets.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Brian's Nob and Broomsticks

Brian's Nob and Broomsticks

Citizens! This woman may kill again. Approach with caution.This year, the BBC went and dragged up two hours of horror from the depths of my childhood by screening the bloody awful Bedknobs and Broomsticks over Christmas.

It was, at the age of six, the first film I ever saw in a cinema. With little else to do with myself, I sat and watched it right through, and it was as boring now - and somewhat creepy - as it was then.

It also sparked a lifelong and entirely rational fear of inventor of the wanking machine Angela Lansbury, and leads directly onto the suspicion that she carried out each and every one of those gruesome killings in that well-known documentary series 'Murder, She Wrote'. 263 episodes, and they never caught her. Beat that, Harold Shipman.

I still remember my mother's comments as we blinked our way into the Vancouver sunlight that afternoon once our ordeal was over:

"I'm not taking you lot anywhere, ever again," a mantra that was to be repeated many times throughout my childhood.

Last night, and as some form of payback, Channel Four screened Life of Brian, my first ever "grown-up" trip to the cinema.

OK, so I had to turn up at the Odeon in Reading armed with my birth certificate to get in, and poor, poor Steve, whose birthday outing it was let slip it wasn't his fourteenth birthday until the next day, and was forced, by a grinning commissionaire, to wait outside. The rest of us, loyal friends that we were, had the time of our young lives, and it was worth it just to see a hairy minge ten feet high on the screen in front of us.

Ju-Vid hid in the toilets and watched the film three times in a row, just so he could see The Minge again, and not - and this accusation haunted him for the rest of his young life - so he could get another good look at Brian of Nazareth's nob.

What, then, was your first fellum?

The Tuesday Vote-o

That other award-winning blogger Zoe notes that the nominations are open for the 2007 Weblog Awards. Now, I'm not going to tell you who to vote for, but the usual free beer, money and sex offer still stands.

Get in there!

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Omen

The Omen

In Roman times, on auspicious dates or before any important undertaking, one would go to a temple, and the sacrifice of a chicken would be made to the deity of your choice. The priest would then examine the entrails and you would be told of the omens for the times to come, good, bad or indifferent.

I was unable to take a chicken and kill it in the doorway of the church at the top of the road - especially not after that business with the ASBO following last year's fiasco - so I did the next best thing. And when Jimmy Carr called the Police, I, alas, was forced to resort to my third choice.

So, my first poo of 2007 tells me this: you will be firm, solid, slightly floaty, and about eight inches long; and you will get wedged sideways in the bowl when you try to flush it away. This bodes well.

This year, then, will be a double-flusher with a single-wipe, with the slightest trace of sweetcorn.

Just to be on the safe side, the whole ceremony - from the initial wiping of the stray hairs from the seat to the solemn burning of matches to mask any foul odours - has been extensively photographed and passed on to Father Hugo for independent verification.

This is going to be The Best Year Ever.